US Chamber Of Commerce Complains About People 'Pirating' The Presidential Debate

from the really-now? dept

The US Chamber of Commerce is somewhat infamous for its dishonest and misleading claims about copyright, which are often so ridiculous as to be laughable. But, even then, I wasn’t expected the following:

If you can’t read that, it’s a tweet from the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Global IP Center,” stating the following:

Millions watched the presidential #debates on illegal streams. The harmful #piracy trend must end

And it links to this Forbes article (adblock blocker warning) presenting some data on how many people watched unauthorized streams.

The tweet is ridiculous (as is the article, but we’ll get to that…). First of all, the presidential debates are an important part of our democracy and understanding who will be leading our country in another few months. The idea that you need copyright to put that on is ridiculous. Second, partly because of what I wrote in the first sentence, the debates are available in a variety of places for free — including TV and streaming on the internet via both YouTube and Twitter. For free. Third, there are no commercials and no fees associated with the debate — again because of the importance of civic engagement. Who is actually “harmed” by people watching the debate through unauthorized streams? Why is this “harmful”? Why must this “end”?

Or, as Parker Higgins points out, “warning that piracy could lead to participation in democracy” is particularly ridiculous — but I guess that’s how the US Chamber operates.

Now, back to the original article at Forbes. It’s just as ridiculous. Written by Nelson Granados, apparently an actual professor at Pepperdine, it seems to pull off a press release from a company called “VFT Solutions” which is a company that (no joke) claims to use its “patented technology” to “protect your intellectual property.” So, yeah, you have an idea of where this is coming from:

VFT is trying to popularize a term it appears to have made up entirely, called “nano-piracy,” and Granados falls for it, hook, line and sinker.

VFT Solutions tracked 420 live streams of Sunday?s debate and recorded 22 million views. This includes accessing legal streams from media sources like the New York Times and Fox News, which streamed the debate on live-streaming platforms. But it also includes massive views of illegal streams. According to VFT?s CEO, Wayne Lonstein, ?Perhaps what is most interesting is that 41% of these views were from illegal live-streams, also known as nano-piracy.? That?s about 9 million nano-pirate views, and this is just a sample.

WTF is “nano-piracy”? What does that even mean? Hollywood has been complaining about streaming piracy for ages, so there’s nothing new here. Granados then admits that the debates were available for free basically everywhere, but doesn’t immediately realize how ludicrous it is to then call this “piracy” (nano or otherwise). Instead, he just jumps to fretting about what this will mean for copyright holders. Really.

Why are viewers watching these debates on illegal live streams despite having plenty of free legal options? What does this signal for copyright owners who expect to get paid for their content?

It signals nothing. It signals that people use the internet and they look for the most convenient way to watch the debates for their personal situation. And that’s a good thing. It’s good that the debates aren’t sponsored or filled with commercials and that they’re widely available. That’s a good thing for democracy. Piracy and copyright have nothing to do with this.

Does the US Chamber of Commerce and real-life professor Nelson Granados honestly think that without copyright no one would have the incentive to put on or stream Presidential debates?

Of course, the pivot is to claim that, well, okay, maybe this is okay for the debate, but gosh darnit, if they can do that for the debate… why, they could do that for other content too!:

Live-streaming the presidential debates in platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live is great for politics, but it should also raise a big red flag about the emerging threat that nano-piracy on these same platforms poses for artists and entertainers.

Yeah, but that’s been going on for ages, since well before the debate. The use of it for the debate is actually a good sign, showing how interested people are in civic engagement and understanding what the candidates for President are talking about. Why would anyone complain about it other than to (1) sell some stupid “service” or (2) push a ridiculous argument about “harm” from this kind of streaming.

Within the current system, where copyright holders have to request the take-down of every single piracy source, it has been an uphill battle to keep up with download piracy infringers. Nano-pirates are making things worse, with the aggravated fact that live streams leave less trace than downloads. Ironically, illegal live-streaming of the presidential debates is rampant, so hopefully the winner will be motivated to take matters into his or her own hands.

Did you get that? Because so many people watched the presidential debate, this professor thinks that whoever wins the election should crack down on people getting to watch the debate.

This feels like a parody, but unfortunately, it appears to be real.

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Comments on “US Chamber Of Commerce Complains About People 'Pirating' The Presidential Debate”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


The form that presidential ‘debates’ take these days is hardly a debate. Maybe more a form of entertainment, kind of like the Destruction Derby’s where cars are smashed into each other until only one is left running.

Now, as far a copyright is concerned, I think I remember that the copyright goes to the entity that creates the video (puts it into a fixed form), but in this instance, weren’t multiple entities broadcasting the show? Which one gets the copyright, or do they share?…yeah right, share.

One more thing. The arrogance of the US Chamber of Commerce operating a site called the ‘Global IP Center’ is just astounding. Do they really think that all IP, worldwide, begins and ends in the US? Do they really see themselves as the global IP enforcers. I think the City of London police might have something to say about that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Debate?

Now, as far a copyright is concerned, I think I remember that the copyright goes to the entity that creates the video (puts it into a fixed form), but in this instance, weren’t multiple entities broadcasting the show? Which one gets the copyright, or do they share?…yeah right, share.

More basic than that: Isn’t it public domain since it is a presidential commision event?

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Debate?

Really the party running the camera – which there were a lot, so there are a number of individual “works” created at the debate.

It is not public domain unless the US government was actually recording and broadcasting it. I don’t think they were. I’m pretty sure they had the broadcasters come in and set up their cameras.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The 9/11 conspiritards used to claim that the WTC was brought down with thermite. Those debunking them would show how thermite simply wasn’t as effective on big steel beams as they claimed. (It was also ineffective in a Mythbusters attempt to cut a car in half using a full ton of thermite.)

Then one day a TV action-thriller featured “nano-thermite.” Countless conspiritards bloggers went AHA!!!, and rewrote their old claims by adding “nano-.”

“Nano-Pirates” are to be expected. If Trump loses the election we’ll no doubt hear explanations involving nano-liberals. Global warming will be dismissed citing instances of nano-cooling. American intelligence hacking won’t justify Russian hacking because the Russians are doing nano-hacking.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

“thermite simply wasn’t as effective on big steel beams”


Define big? Length or thickness?

“thermite simply wasn’t as effective on big steel beams”

You sure about that assertion?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I watched your first video. (I’m not going to watch ALL of them – because standard practice when those are debunked is to simply post a bunch more. Without actually arguing a point.)

No, they are not cutting a railroad tie with thermite. They’re melting a special alloy – entirely inside a big container of thermite – and then letting it pour down into a gap between two railroad ties. And that’s AFTER heating the railroad ties to the edge of melting using a traditional welding torch and special rig. You see it at the start of the video.

As for the Mythbusters video, a full ton of thermite melted a few holes through the (probably aluminum, lower melting point than steel) roof of the car. It didn’t melt through the hood, let alone the frame. The bag of thermite placed against the rear vertical panel had little effect. And that’s with a full TON of the stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Most people have no understanding of the forces involved, onces a floor in the fire zone started to buckle and let the floors above start their descent they became a giant, and growing, piston forcing its way down the inside of the building. The generated compressed air, and beams being stretched and sheared as that mass passed created what looked like a series of explosions running down the building, with gravity supplying all the energy needed for those effects.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

C’mon now. “Pop violently outwards.” Sorry. Gravity, and steel does not work like that. Especially at the distance beams ejected. Think WTC6.

Anyway we can discuss this all day but the fact here was Rodger stated what he thought was a fact and was corrected. Thermite can cut steel. Period. You say different? Still?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

We’re not talking about the beams flying across the city. But a couple four story beam-lengths? No problem. Getting further out as they fall? No problem.

OF COURSE thermite can cut steel. But thick steel beams aren’t something you simply stick a brick of thermite to and expect it to do the job. As Mythbusters demonstrated using a full ton of the stuff.

Heck, shaped cutting charges will do the job for less effort and a LOT less mass.

Of course, in either case you’d need a large team spending a week tearing apart all the walls to get at the beams, adding the thermite/charges and criss-crossing the whole place with det-cord. In two buildings. Without ANYONE in the offices noticing and mentioning it to anyone else.

And everyone on the team not only being OK with mass murder, but they and those who refused still keeping it a secret for decades after. Along with all the people responsible for rigging the holographic or remote-controlled airplanes, depending on your fantasy. And all the people in various agencies from the FAA to the CIA to the White House who were involved. And all the investigators. No-one talked. Dream on.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Yes, the WTC was the cheapest rent in Manhattan, mostly vacant, mostly Asian tenants, and G. Bush’s brother ran security in two of the three lost buildings. It seams the towers were nearing the end of life, electrolysis between the aluminum skin and steel supports were the architect’s second disaster. The City of Saint Luis had demolitioned his 33 building, 11 story 2,800 unit housing project while his WTC was going up.

Also, Myth Buster’s ‘explosive expert’ taught classes for the FBI, was on the scene 24 May 1990 when a bomb exploded in Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney’s car, nearly killing them. Oddly, in 2002 a judge ordered Frank Doyle, 2 FBI agents and 3 Oakland police officers to pay $4.4 million to Cherney (a Green Party pres. canadate in 2016) and to Bari’s estate for bombing them.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I’m not going to watch ALL of them”
For if you did you’d see that thermite… can indeed cut steel beams. Which was your original assertion. Which is incorrect.

The Mythbusters piece is different from other thermite reactions I have seen. Much slower burn rate. The railroad piece was to show that yes indeed, thermite can have an effect on very thick steel and can cut it.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Here’s some videos and a link to dozens more. Take a few hours to watch them because somewhere in there there’s proof, and if you don’t find it, I’ll post a bunch more.” Typical.

I watched your first video and rewatched the Mythbusters one. As I explained, the first does nothing to prove your claim. The Mythbusters one contradicts it. Also typical.

And here you are outright denying what the videos YOU posted show, even after someone watches them. Yeah, typical.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Sure enough

The debate sold me – I’m DEFINITELY voting third party, no matter what. Both major candidates aren’t worth pissing on if they were on fire. You can yammer about “lesser of two evils” all you want – they’re both EQUALLY evil. No thanks. And later, when you all are complaining about whichever wins, I’ll laugh and say I told you so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sure enough

Most people are more “cave” than “hu” man. They fundamentally do not understand the inherent problems with the whole “voting for the lesser of two evils” mentality.

If a party only needs to get one pile of shit stacked 1 foot taller than the other pile of shit then all it does is become a race for the biggest pile of shit!

Political Parties only ever serve one singular purpose, the usurpation of the will of the people. It will NEVER serve another. Anyone voting for a candidate in a political party is already admitting their vote should not count!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: nano piracy?

It means nothing. They just coined a term that sounds techie enough to the kinds of clueless “journalists” who parrot this stuff, and hope that they can term this something catchier and scarier than “unauthorised streaming”. Funnily enough, as meaningless as it is, the term would actually mean that it’s much smaller/less damaging than regular piracy, which I doubt is what they wanted to portray.

Anonymous Coward says:

Uhm… live streams of the debate make perfect sense. Different groups of people wanting to discuss and communicate with one another while watching the debate, probably different sociopolitical groups hosting different streams to cater to their various dogma’s, sharing and expanding information and debate AROUND the debates…

And as was stated, people WATCHING the debates! Imagine that! It really sounds like this did far more good than…. ANY harm at all.

TripMN says:

Free as in... ???

With everyone’s love of content blocking on Geo/IP, what are the chances that a bunch of the streams were for people in other nations (ex-pats, morbidly curious foreigners) that are just as interested in these presidential debates as those in America?

The fact that a public debate that has global implications has ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ means of digital distribution seems odd.

David says:

Well, well

Did you get that? Because so many people watched the presidential debate, this professor thinks that whoever wins the election should crack down on people getting to watch the debate.

This feels like a parody, but unfortunately, it appears to be real.

Tom Lehrer had stated decades ago that political satire became redundant when Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize.

But frankly, by now the estate of Samuel Beckett has to fear absurd theatre becoming obsoleted by politics.

Jason says:

You're looking at it all wrong

The Chamber of Commerce (and by extension, I suppose, the corporate interests that consider themselves the “owners” of the debate’s recording) doesn’t care that it was available for free. They’re freaking out because people watched it through “unauthorized channels” which means that the people putting it out there “legitimately” don’t get credit for viewership.

I suspect they couldn’t care less about their argument that people were “pirating” the debate feed. They just don’t want to allow any precedent where “unauthorized” streamers are considered acceptable, because that could come back and bite them in the future. Copyright is just the boogeyman they’re using as their weapon of choice.

Median Wilfred says:

Meaning of neologism "nano-piracy"

i’ll bet that you and I would say “fair use” or maybe even “just mentioning it” where the US Chamber of Commerce would say “nano-piracy”.

I can’t wait for the 9th Circuit to rule on a case about how someone used the word “the” from “Return of the Jedi”, and so owes Disney bigly.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“What does this signal for copyright owners who expect to get paid for their content?”

That they have failed to find ways to deliver the content to consumers how consumers want it, instead wasting millions on snake-oil salesmen who now have crafted a new boogeyman of ‘nano-piracy’ to get them to trade the cow for these nano repelling beans.

That rather than face reality, they are willing to listen to those who only profit by telling them what they should be afraid of.

Congress needs to start living in reality and not accept the twisted fantasies of cartels pretending to be a government agency.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

what the CoC and the Forbes article is potentially unconstitutional. I will tell you why.

lets take the 2 pres debates and VP debate. I am involved on a community that has streamed them, even though they are free elsewhere (youtube, etc.), the purpose of the single stream is to have everyone on the same page when discussing the debates, instead of part of us watching Fox, part watching CNN, part watching NBC, etc.

so to shut these “nano-piracy” (Whatever the fuck that means, i think they just technobabbled straight from star trek, but ehh..) sites down, imo, is nothing short of the government restricting the dissemination and discussion of relevant information, ie. free speech, ie. a 1st amendment violation.

DoB (profile) says:

A biilion acts of nano-piracy a day

This is such an awesome new word!

Have you committed nano-piracy today? I’ll bet you have. Did you hum a tune? Take a picture (which inevitably contained copyrighted images, furniture, buildings, skylines, appliances, containers, etc)? Catch a glance of someone else watching a movie? Turn your car audio up so that some one else could hear it? Take notes? Use a trademarked phrase?

Once you accept that everything is born copyrighted, you understand that nano-piracy turns everyone into a ‘criminal’.

John Mayor says:


Simple!… only use a “Public Interest facility” to host your “Public Interest debate”, LEGISLATE that the American Government must ensure that ANY AND ALL PARTICIPANTS IN A PUBLIC INTEREST DEBATE (INCLUDING COMMERCIAL MEDIA!) “SIGN OFF” ON F-R-E-E P-U-B-L-I-C A-C-C-E-S-S T-O T-H-E P-U-B-L-I-C I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T D-E-B-A-T-E!… and!… B-E F-O-R-E-V-E-R C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-T I-N E-N-S-U-R-I-N-G F-R-E-E P-U-B-L-I-C A-C-C-E-S-S T-O P-U-B-L-I-C I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T D-E-B-A-T-E-S!
This reminds me of scenarios wherein public voting stations were established within PRIVATE FACILITIES!… and then the owners of such facilities began to dictate how the voting was to be performed, because the booths (etc.) were situated within PRIVATE PROPERTY! Duh!
Simply put… you don’t allow your ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES to be dictated by PRIVATE SECTOR INTERESTS!… wherein, Constitutional Protections can’t be enforced… and, because your Constitutional Protections DON’T APPLY! And that’s why “Privatizing” Government Services is dangerous!… you can longer scream Constitutional Protections! And so… to BIND a PUBLIC INTEREST DEBATE to Constitutional Protections, is to E-N-S-U-R-E that your mechanism for delivering your PUBLIC INTEREST DEBATE (both products and services!) are within the framework of C-O-N-S-T-I-T-U-T-I-O-N-A-L P-R-E-S-C-R-I-P-T-I-O-N-S!
Please!… no emails!

John85851 (profile) says:

The boy who cried wolf

At some point, people are going to get sick of these false copyright claims and these organizations’ claims will fall of deaf ears, if it isn’t happening already. I may have missed something, but I didn’t see where they explained the “harm” done by the illegal streaming. On the contrary- as a US citizen, I *want* the rest of the world to see our presidential debates, even if their countries’ news stations may not show it.

I’d remind them of the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but I don’t want to repeat too much of it because of copyright concerns.

Chamber of Commerce (Parody) says:

You guys are lucky that we allow the politicians that we bought and paid for to even discuss anything publicly. Most of their discussions are done privately with us in secret! The least the public could do is pay us for the privilege!! We are the ones that bought and paid for these politicians, they belong to us and so does everything they say.

(Well, Donald Trump may not be bought and paid for but a Wikileak suggests that he was chosen by the media as the republican nominee on purpose because they knew he would be the easiest candidate for Hillary Clinton to win against and Hillary Clinton certainly looks like she is bought and paid for. She already comes off as a liar and she isn’t even president yet, at least Obama was believable with his lies of transparency before he got elected and it all turned out to be a lie with his attempts to go after whistleblowers and secretive meetings with industry interests. If Hillary Clinton is already coming off as a liar imagine how much worse she will get when she actually gets elected).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

(From the moment that the DNC discriminated against Bernie Sanders to the moment that the media chose Donald Trump as the republican nominee to hand the election over to Hillary this election was rigged. It’s nothing but a mock election and Hillary should be ashamed of herself for needing to go up against such a weak opponent like Donald trump in order for her to win. But I regress, politicians have no shame. How many world leaders have been temperamental, have been liars, have been drunks, have cheated on their spouses, have been sociopathic. Heck, I remember a study someplace suggesting that politicians are more likely than the general public to have a criminal background. It’s sad, we choose all the wrong people to lead and part of the reason for that is because these are the people that sociopathic businesses with money choose to fund).

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